Florida is geographically located so that it separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Atlantic Ocean. This makes Florida a particularly popular haven for those who enjoy boating. Florida ranks behind Michigan and California in terms of the number of boats registered in the state. When it comes to boating rules, some are similar to traffic laws. One of these similarities is the requirement that following an accident, the operators of both vessels must stop and exchange information. It is also illegal to operate a vessel while intoxicated. Disobeying these laws can result in both citations and jail time, depending on the violation.
WUSF News reports that Florida leads the nation in boating accidents according to a Coast Guard report.
According to a U.S. Coast Guard survey of 2018 marine incidents, Florida led the nation in boating accidents, injuries, and fatalities. Last year, the state had 607 boating accidents. These accidents resulted in 57 deaths, 297 injuries, and more than $7 million in damage to property.
Despite this disheartening news, fatal accidents fell to their lowest level since 2015. The Coast Guard report was issued just days before a fire on a dive boat in California killed more than two dozen people.
Collisions and falling overboard make up the majority of the fatalities, but fires claim their fair share. In many cases, the fires are preventable.
Other findings in the Coast Guard report include the fact that alcohol was a factor in 101 deaths nationwide. Another eye-opening statistic is that three out of four fatalities involved drowning. 84% of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.